Now that construction activity has resumed in right earnest, the two T-junctions and an underpass of the Pragati Maidan redevelopment project will be opened around a month before the 1.2-kilometre-long tunnel under the trade fair complex. Earlier, these had been scheduled to open at the same time, but a labour shortage in the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown has led to a change in plans. The two T-junctions on Ring Road and Mathura Road from Bhairon Marg and the underpass on Bhairon Marg, all of them around 95% complete, will be thrown open for public use towards the end of June. Workers deployed elsewhere have been directed to work on these sites to speedily finish the pending work.
Officials said that they aim also to have all the five underpasses functioning by the next 12 months. Two of the underpasses on Mathura Road are near Sunder Nagar, the rest between Pragati Maidan and the Supreme Court. According to an India Trade Promotion Organisation official, around 80% of the work has been completed on the underpasses. If this deadline is met, the commute on Mathura Road, Ring Road and Bhairon Marg will become easier. The underpasses will make Mathura Road — from ITO W-point to Delhi Public School — and the Bhairon Marg-Ring Road intersection signal-free.
The six-lane tunnel running under the Pragati Maidan complex, of which around 900 metres are almost already, will connect India Gate with Ring Road. The box-pushing method will be employed to construct a part of the remaining portion. In this method, tunnel segments are cast outside and pushed through heavy embankments of the passage so as not to disturb movement of trains or vehicles. Originally budgeted at Rs 932 crore, the costs have spiralled to over Rs 1,000 crore due to construction hold-ups, first because of the pollution-forced ban on construction last winter, and then the riots in northeast Delhi and finally the nationwide lockdown to check spread of coronavirus infection.
The main beneficiaries of these changes will be the commuters headed east from south and central Delhi via India Gate and ITO. The vehicles going towards south Delhi from ITO will also have access to the tunnel from Mathura Road, providing a much-needed alternative to Bhairon Marg, especially during peak hours. This will also eventually reduce the traffic volume at the ITO traffic signal. Two elevated clover-leaf roundabouts on Ring Road are also being built for south- and north-bound traffic emerging from the underpasses. Both roundabouts are almost on the verge of completion. The U-turns on Bhairon Marg and Subramaniam Bharti Marg crossings are being replaced with elevated U-turns, affording more space to the vehicles going towards ITO.